Monday, June 02, 2008

Why Republicans Smell Like Rotting Salmon

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

The other day, doing the family grocery-shopping thing, I went to buy some salmon (wild caught, of course — I never eat farmed salmon) and couldn’t. Not that it was unavailable. It was that the cheapest I could find cost $26 a freaking pound. The good stuff, the chinook, was selling for $40.

For a family on an ordinary budget, accustomed to buying their salmon at between $6 and $16 a pound, that’s just unaffordable. I bought beef instead.

We know the direct cause of this: the collapse of the California/Oregon salmon fishery. But what caused that?

Why, Republicans, of course.

The collapse of these fisheries is mostly the product of the decisions by the Bush administration back in 2001-2003 to ignore federal law and shut off Klamath River Basin water downstream so that Oregon farmers — who were being backed by a witches’ brew of militia/Patriot movement paranoiacs and Republican property-rights types — could have the water for themselves. The result was the largest salmon kill in American history.

And it all happened because of machinations in which Dick Cheney himself was intimately involved. Cheney is a "fisherman" the same way he’s a hunter (I for one would not stand near the guy with a fly rod in his hand because I know I’d catch one of his flies in my face): he depends on privately supplied stocks. For the rest of us, well, go catch what you can after he’s done shooting the salmon in the face.
Cheney, as I discussed here, embroiled a host of other Republicans in this fiasco as well — most notably Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, who even as recently as a couple of years ago was defending the decisions leading up to the salmon kill:
[Smith said] he doesn’t regret helping restore water to Klamath Basin farmers in 2002, despite the massive salmon die-off that followed on the Klamath River. In fact, Smith questions whether the diversion to farmers was the cause of the fish kills — a position severely at odds with environmentalists and one that is likely to keep the issue alive politically. Smith said in an interview with the editorial board of The Eugene Register-Guard that he thought the die-off was more likely a result of disease and said: "I am not here to make any apologies. I am proud to fight for the farmers or any group of Americans whom the federal government says has no standing, no water. I just find that offensive."
Last week the DSCC noted that Smith’s negative-ad attacks on his Democratic opponent, Jeff Merkley, just weren’t working. You can’t help but think that no small part of that has to do with the folks out grocery shopping for their salmon — and putting two and two together.

Republicans are not just busting federal budgets, they’re killing Americans budgetarily at home too — both at the gas pump and the grocery store. And that, more than anything, may have to do with why the Republican brand has such a bad smell about it these days.

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